Portrait of Maria Amalia of Austria (1746-1804), Duchess consort of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla (1769-1802)
Maria Amalia of Austria (Italian: Maria Amalia d'Asburgo-Lorena; 26 February 1746 – 18 June 1804) was the Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla by marriage. Maria Amalia was a daughter of Empress Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis I. She was thus younger sister to Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor and older sister to Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, Maria Carolina, Queen of Naples and Marie Antoinette, Queen of France. She was the eighth child of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Emperor Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor. Born at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, she was raised in the Habsburg Viennese court in winter and at Schönbrunn and Laxenburg in summer. As her siblings, she was regularly interviewed by her mother. Maria Amalia, as her sisters, was mainly raised to be an ideal consort and taught the arts and how to be obedient, dutiful and representative. Because of her age and the fact that the siblings were raised separated by gender, she was in practice raised as an only child. She did not have a good relationship with her mother: in fact, of all her daughters, Maria Theresa was said to have the worse relationship with Amalia. When she debuted as an adult in the society life in Vienna, she made a success because of her beauty. Against her will, Amalia was married to Ferdinand of Parma (1751–1802). The marriage was supported by the future Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, whose first beloved wife had been Ferdinand's sister, Princess Isabella of Parma. The Archduchess's marriage to the Duke of Parma was part of a complicated series of contracts that married off Maria Theresa's daughters to the King of Naples and Sicily and the Dauphin of France. All three sons-in-law were members of the House of Bourbon. Maria Amalia had fallen in love with Prince Charles of Zweibrücken, and she openly expressed her wish to marry him, in the same manner as her sister Maria Christina had been permitted to marry for love. Maria Theresa, however, forbade this and forced her to enter an arranged marriage. This caused a permanent conflict between the Empress and Maria Amalia, who never forgave her mother. Maria Amalia left Austria on 1 July 1769, accompanied by her brother, Joseph II, and married Ferdinand on 19 July, at the Ducal Palace of Colorno. The Duchy of Parma was by this time ruled more or less as a French puppet state by Minister Guillaume du Tillot. Du Tillot kept Ferdinand out of politics, and was favored by the maternal grandfather of Duke Ferdinand, Louis XV of France. A letter of Louis XV to his grandson dated May 1769 attests to this, wherein he counseled his grandson not to despise the minister who served his parents well; moreover, there was no one to replace him, said the French king. The marriage had been arranged by Austria and Spain to end the pro-French policy in Parma and replace it with an Austrian and Spanish one. Upon her arrival, Maria Amalia was expected to submit to the wishes of Du Tillot, who regarded her with suspicion, which immediately caused a conflict. In 1771, two years after her arrival in Parma, Maria Amalia secured the dismissal of Du Tillot and replaced him with a Spanish appointee, Jose del Llano, who was highly recommended by the paternal uncle of Ferdinand, Charles III of Spain. In 1772, the year after, Maria Amalia fired Jose del Llano and replaced him with an Italian prime minister and a cabinet of native Parmesans loyal to her rather than a foreign ruler. As Ferdinand was of a passive nature and content with occupying himself with his religious duties and raising his children, he left the state affairs entirely to her, and after the cabinet change, Maria Amalia was therefore the ruler of Parma.
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